Donald Bren, Chairman of the Board of the Irvine Company, has been deeply involved in California real estate as a master planner, master builder and long-term investor for more than 50 years.
The Irvine Company’s property portfolio exceeds 105 million square feet and includes 500 office buildings, 41 retail centers, 130 apartment communities, five marinas, three hotels and three golf courses, primarily in Orange County, Calif., with one-third of the investment properties in Los Angeles, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Chicago.
As a community entrepreneur, Bren focuses his charitable contributions on land preservation and conservation, as well as education, bioscience and technology research.
Businessweek magazine has estimated that he has given more than $1.3 billion during his lifetime.
Bren has led the Irvine Company to set aside 55,000 acres of the original 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch as permanently protected open space and parklands.
In 2006, much of this land was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. secretary of the interior and the National Park Service. In 2008, it was also designated as the first California Natural Landmark by the state of California.
He also has made significant contributions to K-12 public schools and endowed 51 chairs for distinguished professors and researchers at universities and research institutions.
Born in Los Angeles, Bren earned a degree in business administration and economics from the University of Washington. Following his education, he served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Bren began his business career in 1958. In 1963, he joined the Mission Viejo Company as president and began the master planning and master development of the 11,000-acre new community of Mission Viejo, Calif.
In 1967, Bren sold his interest in the Mission Viejo Company to focus on statewide building and development activities including The Irvine Ranch.
In 1977, he joined a group of investors to purchase the Irvine Company from the Irvine Foundation. In 1983, Bren was elected Chairman of the Board. In 1996, he became the principal shareholder.
Bren is a member of the board of directors and a life trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the California Institute of Technology.
He is trustee emeritus of the boards of the University of California, Irvine Foundation and the Orange County Museum of Art.
In 2004, Bren was awarded the University of California Presidential Medal, the UC system’s highest honor in recognition of his significant contributions to higher education.
In 2007, Bren was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.